Trust: A New Line of Business

What do you think are the key factors in building and maintaining your company's reputation... Innovation? Price?

Surprisingly, according to the recent 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, survey respondents in the US valued transparency of business practices as well as company trustworthiness as the two most important factors influencing corporate reputation.

What is trust? It's the confidence in a company's ability to do what is right for all its stakeholders -- shareholders, customers, employees, and the broader society at large -- and not just shareholders.

Trust is an increasingly important component to maintaining your company's reputation and brand, and Western countries have seen an increase in global trust. Global businesses headquartered in the United States in particular have seen an 18 point boost to 54 percent in global trust.

Whether this uptick represents the start of a new trend or a mere blip in the barometer remains to be seen. The Edelman report notes that the increase is "tenuous" as people expect companies to return to "business as usual" after the economy rebounds. This warning underscores the need for companies to continue engaging in open and frequent communications and business practices with its stakeholders across multiple channels and view trust as a "new line of business" to cultivate.

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